U.S. Judge Grants Legal Access to Immigrants Detained at Oregon Center
Immigration lawyers should be given access to the 121 immigrants being held at a Oregon prison, District Judge Michael Simon said in Portland.
Immigration lawyers should be given access to the 121 immigrants being held at a Oregon prison, a federal judge said on June 25, the Associated Press reported. Among the detainees at the Sheridan prison are 52 Indians, most of them hailing from Punjab.
“We are a nation under law,” District Judge Michael Simon said in Portland, according to the Portland Mercury. “The rule of law is one of our most cherished principles. And because we are a nation that lives under law, the right to legal counsel is a right that has been recognized as required,” he added.
Simon granted immediate access to legal counsel for the alleged illegal immigrants, and approved an emergency restraining order against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for violating the detainees’ constitutional rights to due process, according to the publication. The restraining order was sought by the non-profit organization, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Innovation Law Lab.
The judge also prohibited ICE from conducting asylum hearings or deportation proceedings for the immigrants before they have had access to a lawyer or a “know your rights” training, the report added. The detainees must be provided at least two rooms for six hours a day to meet lawyers for consultation or attend group “know your rights” training, he said, the news agency reported. The immigrants cannot be moved outside Oregon without the court’s approval, Simon further ruled.
The ACLU of Oregon filed a lawsuit on June 22, saying that the U.S. government is violating the constitutional rights of immigrant detainees by not allowing them access to lawyers.
The immigrants housed at Sheridan Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) belong to 16 countries, but most of them are from India and Nepal. They have been lodged in tiny cells since they were held 26 days ago, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump launched a “zero tolerance” policy against undocumented immigrants in May.
Reiterating his hard stance over the issue, Trump tweeted on June 24 that people who enter the country illegally should be deported without any court hearing. “We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents,” Trump posted on Twitter.
Besides the 52 Indians detained at Oregon, 42 others are held at the Otero County Detention Center in New Mexico.